This week a friend of mine died unexpectedly – a fellow sailor, a husband, and father of 3, who worked in the IT industry by day, and sang karaoke at night.

This week is also the 3 year anniversary of the unexpected death of a cousin of mine who was my age.

Mom died not too long ago, not unexpectedly, but creating a great hole in our hearts.

An aunt died without any warning signs, mourning the loss of her husband 2 years before.

My sister-in-law’s brother died this year unexpectedly as well.

The impact of all these losses piles up, in the mind.   And it causes me to pause.   And maybe because of that when I saw this quote posted this week, it touched me:

So live your life that the fear of death can never

enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion;

respect others in their view, and demand that


respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all

things in your life.

— Chief Tecumseh’s Words of Wisdom

I shall strive to do so.

The urge to purge.

IMG_8911After mom’s funeral, I stayed on another month, expressly to help sort through the myriad of papers and things.  It took that long because there was so much to look through, and also because I looked at each thing.  Some things documented a memory of my mom & dad’s.  But many also documented one of my own memories – each of which I relived as I uncovered something new.   In the end, the task was completed.   What was left was no small pile of boxes of papers that needed to be shredded.  I googled “mobile shredding service” and found one that would come to a residence with a shredding truck and shred all documents right then and there in the presence of the customer.  We had enough to fill a 100 gallon bin, and it cost around $130.  Not bad.

Now that I am home I, too, feel a need to purge the boxes of records documenting the last 30+ years of my own life.  And so, I’ve begun.  I started with the oldest first.  And, I think perhaps that was not the most expedient approach, because I find my progress slowed by the recall of long buried memories as I looked through each item I’ve saved:

  • Transcripts from college documenting the high and low points of my academic journey.
  • College medical bills for stress induced stomatitis, birth control pills (ironically), mono, painful dental work and… the mumps, no less.
  • Plane ticket receipts for every back and forth leg of my life’s path, so far.
  • Student loans and paystubs from jobs to help me barely get by.
  • Car repair invoices for the junkers that got me from one place to the next until I could afford a real car.
  • Applications to graduate schools; knowing now, but having no idea back then, what the profound impact that choice would make on the direction of my life.
  • Phone bills showing in detail each and every call I made home….every couple of days…some for just a few minutes, some for a half hour or more.  Records that bear witness to my committment to keep a close relationship with my family over the years.  This especially touched me because when I came across the annual Christmas letters my mom sent out after I had gone off for college, in the blurb where she wrote about what I was doing, she would always add her wish that I would be moving back to be near the family.  Which I never did.  And that still makes a part of me sad.
  • Graduation documents, job interview letters and interview trips.  Job offer letters from some prospective employers.  The letter of the job offer I eventually decided to accept, which took me even farther from home, and further wove the fabric of my future.
  • Bank statements from a variety of banks, different ones as I moved from one place to the next – one showing all the money that I had to my name (unpaid student loans not withstanding) on my first day of work of my professional career:  $1067.   I must confess that seeing that got the tears rolling for me.  I was simply overwhelmed at how far I have come from that day, and the staggering amount of hard work it has taken to live my American dream.   I had forgotten.   It also reminded me of how my father and my mom’s father immigrated to this country on their own life journies, each with a hundred or so dollars in his pocket, to live out their American dreams.

I’ve gone on too long.  But I guess the point is that they don’t call it a “purge” for nothing.   The process of purging those papers from your past can end up being an emotional purge as well.  So, if you’re up for it, join in, grab some kleenex, and find a mobile shredding service near you.

Time capsule.  

We spent a long weekend together – my sisters, brother and me.  Time to empty the house.  We stayed at mom’s house together and shared feelings, memories, and laughs while going through a lifetime of keepsakes and all manner of things. 

A poem I wrote at age 12:

The Tide. 

Pouncing endlessly on the weary, defenseless shore of sand and rocks.  Constantly charging and retreating, high tide or low.  The tide never sleeps, but sometimes weakens to a slow, silent creep. Always bringing in waves that turn into a frothing, white foam.  The shore can never rest from this endless beating; never. 

Yeah.  It’s not Shakespeare. :)  I found a number of my poems – long forgotten.  Ironically many are about some aspect of Nature.  But maybe that’s not ironic after all. 

So much stuff.  Preserved in time for 50+ years.   Birth announcements, funeral prayer cards, decades of pictures, letters, cards, gifts, momentos… points in time defining the lives of my mom and dad and all they held dear. 

1st or 2nd grade, maybe?

But I digress.  We made a dent in it and have a garage full of neatly packed bags and boxes for donation, shredding, recycling and trash. 

I spent the day today with Fran and kids – geocaching in what turned out to be a downpour.  We got soaked but found every cache in the park.  At one point we came across 3 big woodpeckers.  They didn’t sit still, so I didn’t get much of a shot.  But, here ’tis.   

I wish you all a peaceful week. 


Today we celebrated my mom,  and said goodbye.  What an emotional day.   It was a beautiful ceremony.  Lots of family and friends shared the day with us. 

We sent her off with a graveside parting glass.   

I’m a little exhausted.  A little sad.  And very happy to have an angel of mom’s calibre in my corner.  

I’ll leave you with a picture from my sister’s garden, and the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem version of The Parting Glass


Sad on the inside, with beauty all around.

I flew back home, again, yesterday.  But this time, my Mom is not here.  God took her back.  It is the sad, but inevitable, end to a wonderful lifetime.  I am proud and oh so happy to be her daughter.   Today we say goodbye and celebrate her life.  ‘Til we meet again, Mom… I love you.

As we approached Seattle, I was treated to beautiful views of the Cascades.  Fires are again raging in Washington, both east and west of the mountains, so the view was a bit hazy.  In this one looking south, Mount Rainier is in the front, center.   Mount Saint Helens is slightly above and to the right of Rainier; the gray, hazy, low peak with no snowcap.  The leftmost peak is Mount Adams.  And between Adams and Rainier, in the distance, you can faintly see Mount Hood.


Oh, Mercury, give it a rest!

I took this photo last weekend on the lake, right before the last bit of seemingly relentless rain storms passed.   It has an ominous look to it – fitting for how I’m feeling today.

IMG_8304Have you heard tales of bizarro things happening when the planet Mercury is in retrograde (which happens a couple times every year)?   If not, you can read about it here.  Well, Mercury has been in retrograde since May 18, and will be through June 11.

Here’s a short list of things I’m writing off as Mercury’s doing during this period of retrograde:

– historic flooding (since around the 18th……hmmm)
– the docks at our marina have broken in places due to the flooding and storms, so the dock our boat is on Is in limbo, unable to be brought back to shore for the time being
– our anchor rode snapped unexpectedly while pulling up the hook 2 weeks ago
– I found a bat in my office at work yesterday (the Mexican freetail kind, not the Louisville slugger kind)
– the sewer drain at the house up and died last night (freakiest – and grossest – of all)

And we still have almost another week of this.  Have you any bizarre happenings to share?

See the forest.

Another shot from yesterday’s walk through the woods.   I found myself literally surrounded by trees as far as my eye could see — much like I feel with my todo lists from work and home.   It was a reminder to try to keep the big picture in perspective, and not get hung up on the little things.


Jazz it up.

One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions was to dedicate some time to learning.  Have you heard of MOOCs – massive open online classes?  Well, there are MANY online courses on every subject imaginable, hosted from many different institutions and web portals.   They are free – if audited, and are taken online from the comfort of your couch.  Ten weeks ago I enrolled in a MOOC on Jazz Appreciation on, along with 11,000(!) other students.  I love all kinds of music, but I really didn’t know much about Jazz, and I thought if I learned a bit more about it, its eras and artists, that I might enjoy it even more.

Today I finished the course.   I highly recommend it.   I now know a bit more about early jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, free jazz, fusion, and neo-classical eras.  I know that Coltrane was THE MAN on tenor sax.  I know that Miles varied his music on trumpet to influence many eras.  I found out that I really like the pianist Bill Evans and will seek out some of his albums.  I understand why Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk transcend a specific Jazz era.  I decided that I don’t care as much for bebop – no offense to Dizzy and the Bird.  I enjoy early jazz and modal and hard bop and cool.   I can distinguish blues form from AABA form.   I can listen for the bass and drums to try to pick out swing from even-8th rhythm.   I heard many snippets of a variety of performances from artists that I was already aware of, whetting my interest to hear more by them.  And I learned about some of the newest artists to appear on the Jazz stage.  Professor Hellmer was great.

All and all, a great class!  Aaaaaand, I got an A.  :)

150321 maintains a list of over a thousand MOOCs here.  Take a look, pick one out that sounds interesting, and enroll!

And *poof* … 5 years gone by.

Sunday was the 5 year blogoversary for sheila365!  I meant to draft a post ahead of time, and post it bright and early on March 8th.   But I just looked at the calendar and time has snuck by on me once again.

That’s ok.  In these 5 years sheila365 has evolved, and I think I have a bit, too.  My blog started as a post-a-day 365 project during the first year or two, which had me snapping photos during the day to make sure I had something that I judged “share-worthy;”  and now it has become more of a leisurely, post-every-week-or-so project, which I have to say has been much easier, though less artistic in terms of trying to capture beautiful photos, but rather just moments from my day that struck me as special or interesting in one way or another.

So happy blogoversary to me!  :)    I thought I’d go back through my posts from year 5 and pick a photo from one post from each month that especially makes me smile.  I have to say it was very hard to pick just one picutre from each month. 

 March 2014:  Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.   A visit to the walled El Morro.  Beautiful Caribbean views.


April 2014:  British Virgin Islands sailing trip – this was taken while snorkeling off Cooper Island.

Turtle dude surfacing - 2

Turtle dude surfacing – 2

May 2014 – A trip home to Seattle.  One of several last year.   It is a beautiful, special place for me.IMG_4009

June 2014 – Back in Austin for fun on the lake with some of my crazy sailor friends.IMG_4863

July 2014 – An amazing trip to Panama City Beach to celebrate a very special anniversary with a very special family.


August 2014 – A roadtrip to the Texas Gulf Coast.  One of my favorite places to relax.IMG_5697

September 2014 – A lovely anniversary trip through the Texas Wine Country.IMG_5876

October 2014 – A fun girls’ trip to Washington, D.C.  Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of walking.  :)

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

November 2014 – An oh so special birthday.IMG_6994

December 2014 – Family visiting means showing off Austin and the Hill Country.  Never gets old.IMG_7297

January 2015 – Hiking as many trails as I can before I had to go back to work after taking a few months off.IMG_7688

February 2015 – Yep, more tulips.IMG_7780

What an amazing lap around the sun!

Thanks for coming along for the ride. :)

And now, for something completely different…

Last week I began a short break from the rat race, taking a couple months off from work.

Soooo….I went shopping on Monday; golfing on Tuesday; sailing on Wednesday; woke up at anchor Thursday morning; back to the lake Friday for two nights on the boat; rafted up with Kurt & Kevin on Dancer, and Marty & Sue (yay!!) on Caribbean Hug Saturday night; made it back home Sunday night to watch my Seahawks and make pizza; and then headed to Seattle for a visit this past Monday.

I’ll try to get my sheila365 groove back. :)


I kind of zoned out there.

My posts for the last few months have been a tad infrequent.  And it’s been two weeks since I last posted. I think I have just been decompressing.  I have had a great summer – spending time with family, and then coming back to Austin for a couple of downtime weeks to play with Monte.  Somewhere, in there, the summer has nearly slipped by.  That’s ok, though.  Onward!

Yesterday Sue & Marty joined us on the boat for a windless day on the lake.  We headed directly for our cove, set anchor, jumped in and floated until just before sunset.  A great day!  Here is a shot of the blinding sun on its way to the horizon. IMG_5768

From a distance.

Julie flew home Wednesday to join her dad and brothers on a long-planned climb to the top of the 14K+ foot peak that is Mount Rainier.  I can only aspire to do something like this one day.  For now, I am watching their ascent via satellite-based location technology.  Amazing.

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 8.49.54 PM

Points 1 – 4 on the map are the last 4 pings they’ve sent on their way up.   I will watch all night and all day tomorrow.  Can’t wait to see the pics!

SoCo birthday night.

I went downtown tonight to celebrate Laura’s birthday.  We ate at Perla’s, and strolled up and down South Congress til it was time to call it a night.

champers night cap at Hotel San Jose

IMG_4899the (blurryish) soco view towards downtown… IMG_4921A reflection of the Frost Bank Tower on the building next door… IMG_4926Happy Birthday, Laura!